An organized effort to celebrate Native culture over the weekend also had the burden of debunking myths and stereotypes about American Indians.
The UCLA American Indian Student Association (AISA) held its pow wow just a few miles from Hollywood, on UCLA’s campus in Los Angeles. But this year, hosting the event was even more important because of the students’ desire for a voice against stereotypes in media and the entertainment industry. Recently, ICTMN reported that a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s Netflix movie the Ridiculous Six because it was demeaning.
“The way that media presents Native Americans and perpetuates stereotypes, it’s really damaging to our community, and this event helps demystify those stereotypes,” Kenneth Ramos, who graduated from UCLA in 2013, toldFusion.
The student group estimates that at least 5,000 people attended the pow wow, and the AISA organized the event to remind fellow UCLA students that their culture is alive and well. The student organizers also wanted to inspire young Natives to apply to UCLA. According to the school’s Office of Academic Planning and Budget, 110 Native American students were accepted into the fall 2014 freshman class; out of the roughly 43,000 total students on UCLA’s campus, only 221 total are Native American.
The event was free and open to the public, and brought Native dancers and singers from in and outside the area, including host northern drum, the Bearspring Singers, and host southern singer, Kenneth Cozad, Kiowa/Comanche. The Miss UCLA Pow Wow Pageant was also a special part of the event. The winner, Dominique Lombardi, 22, wanaikik Cahuilla from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, is not a student at UCLA, but will represent the school nationwide, Fusion said. She studies Liberal Arts and Race & Ethics at the University of Redlands.
AISA is a student/faculty run community where students come together and work collectively in an effort to promote education and interest in their Native culture. This is the college’s 30th pow wow.